October 19, 2014
Why The CDC Says People Can't Spread Ebola Until After Showing Fever Or Symptoms

Newsfeeds are buzzing with people wanting to know why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is little, if any, risk of transmitting Ebola during the incubation period before a fever. Many want to know why the second healthcare worker from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who boarded a flight in Ohio with a raised body temperature posed such a low risk of transmitting Ebola.

The CDC even stated that healthcare workers who were exposed to Ebola should continue working if they are not exhibiting symptoms. According to CDC guidelines, an asymptomatic healthcare worker will have their temperature taken twice each day for 21 days.

For asymptomatic HCP who had an unprotected exposure (i.e. not wearing recommended PPE at the time of patient contact or through direct contact to blood or body fluids) to a patient with Ebola HF

- Should receive medical evaluation and follow-up care including fever monitoring twice daily for 21 days after the last known exposure.

- Hospitals should consider policies ensuring twice daily contact with exposed personnel to discuss potential symptoms and document fever checks

The public has worried about exposures right before a fever is registered during one of the twice-daily checks. Many have made it clear they are worried about transmissions of Ebola during this incubation period. People with other viruses, such as Mumps, are considered contagious during the incubation period, so many wonder if Ebola is actually different.

Dr. Skip Nolan, head of Infectious Diseases at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, explained the CDC guidelines to the Clarion Ledger, hoping to ease public concern. Dr. Nolan says that Ebola's contagious period is quite different from that of Mumps.

"They usually develop symptoms within a week or so. And the first symptom is fever, and once you develop the fever, you're not infectious for several days after that. The rationale is it's safe for people to work."
The CDC also provides guidance to public health officials to help them determine appropriate actions for monitoring people that may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. According to the CDC, asymptomatic people without fevers are not required or expected to be quarantined, and "travel by commercial conveyance" is allowed. However, once the exposed person develops a fever, commercial travel restrictions can be imposed.

A very recent Inquisitr article stated that none of the people being monitored as a result of the healthcare worker's trip to Ohio have developed the fever or the symptoms that the CDC says precedes Ebola's contagious period.